The Lowdown on Low Profile Tires
Low profile tires are high on performance and appearance:They’re one of the hottest trends in the automotive industry. Low profile tires are being fit on everything from sports coupes to family sedans, and tire makers are planning to introduce even more sizes this year. With choices mounting, the question still remains: Are they right for you?
Inspired by motor sports, low profile tires are high on two things—performance and appearance. Lower deck heights both give the tires a racecar look, and also make them better at handling corners. Fewer grooves and smaller void areas between the treads are what make them effective as performance tires. Combined, these features deliver:
- Greater lateral stability
- Improved tread wear
- Reduced weight
- Lower cost (generally)
On the flip side, these same features can make low profiles less than ideal when handling in the snow. Additionally, they:
- Rotate faster than standard tires—which can negatively impact fuel economy if the drive train isn’t modified to account for the RPM change.
- Are more susceptible to sidewall damage, and take a major beating when driving over potholes.
Before switching to low profiles, check your owner’s manual to find out:
- Your vehicle’s recommended tire size.
- The recommended tire inflation pressure.
- The maximum weight your car’s axle systems are designed to carry.
- The tire load capacity and handling characteristics of your vehicle.
These factors all influence the type of tire that should be on your car. A final note: If you do opt for low profiles, remember not to mix with standard tires. Change out all four tires or none at all.